A Peace Prize for the EU?

As most of you will have picked up on, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, October 12. Although it is usually individuals who are honored, this is not the first time an organization was chosen. The International Red Cross, Amnesty International and the UN High Commission for Refugees are prominent in the list of previous winners. And the Nobel  committee has often made controversial choices.

Personally, I welcome this year’s decision. After two devastating world wars, I think it close to a miracle that France and Germany have been able to resolve their enmities to create an alliance run by bureaucrats  rather than soldiers. You can think what you like about butter mountains and milk lakes, and standardized condoms. But I prefer the pleasure of complaining about these attempts to create common ground to the pain of mourning the dead from World War III.  Europe – despite the Euro crisis – is experiencing an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity and we have the European Union to thank for that. The challenges this organization faces continue to increase and demonstrate the necessity of further integration rather than the preservation of cherished national sovereignty. The prize – which will have precious little impact on the EU budget – is a signal, recognition of the vision and the hard work of the past 50 years. Watch this space.

Was the awarding of this prize a wise and even long-overdue decision? Is it a political message to Norway itself, a non-EU member? Were other, more worthy candidates overlooked for this year’s honor?

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6 Comments

Filed under Beginnings

6 responses to “A Peace Prize for the EU?

  1. Hi Debbie, I had received your post, just had not got around to commenting, Keep up the great work Lyn

    • Hi Lyn, thanks for your sign of life. Being a total newbie at this game, I’m in need of reassurance that the world actually exists out there.
      Cheers, dch

      • Raymond Gann

        Hi Debbie,

        I thought I had written a longish reply last week. Obviously the gremilns have devoured it. I will have to crank up again this weekend (I will have to get Nicholena to approve a Freizeitantrag)

      • Hi Raymond,
        yeah, hard to tell where it went to but it didn’t seem to land here. Now there’s a new post to read. Good luck with your domestic negotiations!
        Cheers,dch

  2. Raymond Gann

    I have to say that I am a little agnostic on the EU’s contribution to peace, which I believe to be much exaggerated. After the second of the two World Wars the European powers were like punch drunk boxers who would have liked thrown a few more punches but were no longer capable of doing so. Any possible further bellicosity was curbed by about a million pairs of American and Soviet boots. The Cold War guaranteed European peace: barely a year of its end the South Slavonic Europeans behaved like unleashed dogs as they resumed where they had left off in 1945.Think of the appalling savegery in the siege of Sarajevo,the destruction of Vukovar, the massacre in Srebrenica, the shelling of Dubrovnik. The EU floundered helplessly from one round of futile “peace missions” (Lords Owen and Carrington) to another, whilst behind the scenes the British, French, Austrians & Germans resumed their old World War client relations with Croatia and Serbia. Peace only returned in1995 through mainly US diplomatic intervention.
    The current financial crisis threatens to rip open old wounds and promote old stereotypes of thrifty northern Europeans and the feckless denizens of the Mediterranean. Whilst the elites push for ever more centralisation “deeper union”, the “European street” pushes for more fragmentation: soon the mini-states of Lithuania,Estonia,Luxembourg and Slovenia will be joined by Scotland,Catalonia, the Basque Country and maybe even Bavaria or the the Alsace. Britain is contemplating curbing the rights of EU to work and live in the UK. Petty nationalism, the tinder box of war, is regenerating with Voldemortian vigour.

    However I did say that I was agnostic and not atheistic on the subject.The Franco-German reconciliation has been real and very much the personal mission of Adenauer and De Gaulle . There can be no question that genuine idealism drove the architects of the original EEC of the Six. De Gaspari, Schuhmann, Monnet and Adenauer were of a generation who had been sickened by the almost limitless capacity of the Europeans to self-destruct. Anyone who spent a large part of their chilhood as I did crossing the interminable frontiers between Belgium,the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany can only welcome Schenegen and the idea let alone the comfort it conveys. Europeans have definitely acquired, even if mocked for so doing, the habit of painstakingly solving problems by “jaw jaw” and not “war war” (thank you Sir Winston)

    So Peace Prize to the EU ? Why not ? But lets not get carried away, anyway the competition was not that great.

  3. Raymond,
    “The Cold War guaranteed European peace.” I’d never thought about it quite like that but there certainly is some truth in it. Although I have trouble recognizing the Cold War as anything but the balance of terror, i.e. a high level stalmate. At least there was no shooting.
    It is also true that one could write a long llist of the EU failings in just about any category it’s been involved in. But there are plenty of things we enjoy that earlier generations never would have even dreamed of – Schengen, as you mentioned, along with the freedom to work in other EU states and trade without customs barriers.
    All those US and Soviet boots (again, your words) did indeed force the end of the war. But is that the same as peace? The amazing part of it all for me is that after centuries of France and Germany fighting recurrent wars, they managed – between themselves – to start up a system that would so link their national interests that war would become virtually impossible. I think that is worthy of recognition. Yes, lots of jaw-jaw!
    Debbie

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